Looking on Twitter this morning, it seems a little debate about what women’s priorities should be in their personal lives is going on, sparked by an interview of Kirstie May Allsop in the Telegraph, which you can read here. I started to reply on Twitter too but then realised that I have more to say on the subject than can be really squished into a Tweet.
I actually agree with Kirstie. There, I said it.
As a 24 year old who is married, a mother and two years away from having a degree, I do think that, for some women, not going to university at 18 is a good option. I am so glad that I didn’t because my life could have turned out differently and I love the way it is now. I have an awesome relationship with a lovely husband, we have an amazing four year old daughter and I love them both immensely.
Do I think that my lifestyle will suit everyone? Of course not. But I do think that it does work for me and could work for other women too.
When I got engaged and pregnant at 19, many people assume it was accidental and we were getting married to ‘do the right thing’ or ‘make the best of it’. Actually we got engaged then had a very responsible conversation about the idea of having children. Both of us wanted to and since we were in a fairly stable situation, I joyfully chucked my contraceptive pill in the bin and was pregnant within a few months. This and accepting his marriage proposal are jointly the best decisions I’ve ever made. My family bring me more happiness and fulfillment than any career and, while many women feel quite the reverse, I know I’m not alone in that. So why wait until you’re into your thirties to begin what might be the best part of your life?
People cite a few different reasons for doing so. The main one I’ve heard is the idea that you’re too young to settle down in your twenties, that it’s time for being irresponsible and carefree. I disagree. To me, childhood and adolescence is for being irresponsible and carefree. You’re an adult at the age of 18. My opinion on this might well be a little biased by the fact that I was forced into a situation of leaving home at 17 years old so I had to be responsible for myself from that point on. But I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything because of that. If anything, it’s given me a bit of self reliance and the ability to cope. Do I go out with my friends of an evening as much as I did when I was sixteen or seventeen? No, of course not. But do I miss it? No, not really. It was fun at the time but now spending time with my family is fun and the occasional meal out and a few drinks is fun.
Another reason often given is that you should focus on your career first then have a family. Of course, if you feel that your career is going to be your priority in life, then yes you should focus on that. I’m not going to say that women should definitely choose family over a career. But I do resent being told that I’ve done something wrong by doing so myself.
I do actually plan on having a career, that’s one of the main reasons for studying part time towards my degree. Yes, that’s right. I want to have a career and a family. It’s really not necessary to choose between the two and it’s really not some kind of unforgivable crime to womanhood to put having a family first. Those that tell you it is aren’t really much better than anyone who tells you that a woman’s place is in the kitchen or that we’re only good for having babies, are they? It’s still a way of getting women to conform to a prescribed life set out by people who don’t know you personally or understand what’s important to you. You’re going to be every bit as miserable if you focus on a career all of your life when what you really wanted was a family as you would if the situation was reversed.
To conclude, your life is your own. Prioritise what’s important to you and your longterm happiness. Don’t feel pressured into a certain path if it doesn’t fit in to those priorities and your personal circumstances.
Thank you for reading!